Contemporary Learn More
The line dividing one era from another often cannot be defined precisely. The decades of the sixties and seventies witnessed the death of people who had once been of great significance to the Taos art community and the arrival of new persons who would become so. Mabel Dodge Luhan died in 1962 and when Andrew Dasburg, Emil Bisttram, and Dorothy Brett died during the 1970s, the living connection to the earliest decades of the art community passed into history. Artists new to Taos would make strong artistic statements about the region or probe the contemporary barriers of the art world.
The catalysts for the early 1970s influx of artists was the arrival of Dennis Hopper in 1970. After shooting the movie Easy Rider, Hopper stayed in Taos and made the rough cut for the film. He eventually bought the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and has stated that his guest list rivaled that of Mabel's as many artists, musicians and Hollywood personalities made frequent visits to Taos. Contemporary artists such as Ken Price and Larry Bell, followed by Ron Cooper and Gus Foster, moved permanently from Los Angeles in the 1970s, while others such as Lee Mullican and Larry Calcagno spent part of each year in Taos.
Price, who had a rising reputation as a sculptor/ceramicist when he arrived in November of 1971, soon embarked on a monumental project that was eventually known as Happy's Curios. In the spring of 1978 the entire installation was shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Harwood Museum is indeed fortunate to have one of the larger pieces (Death Shrine 1) from Happy's Curios as a major work on extended loan to its contemporary collection.
The Harwood's contemporary collection also includes retrospective collections of 18-20 works by Larry Calcagno and R.C. Ellis, both of whom arrived in Taos through Wurlitzer Foundation grants.
In recent years, many artists from both the East and the West Coasts with well established art careers have chosen to spend part of each year working in Taos or the surrounding northern New Mexico area, thus continuing the strong connection in Taos with the national and international art worlds. The Harwood Museum has served a major role as a venue for exhibiting contemporary art and for focusing attention on many of the major artists who have worked or are working in northern New Mexico.